Riding on an explosive fifty by Najibullah Zardan, high flying Afghanistan posted a massive 197 for 5 against Zimbabwe in their first match of the Tri-Nation T20 Series at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur on Saturday.
Despite some slow batting during the middle, Afghanistan ended on 197 for five featuring 107 runs off in just 41 balls in the 4th fourth wicket stand by Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran, the 2nd fastest partnership in the history of T20I.
During the innings, Afghanistan hit 15 sixes which is the highest number at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur.
Afghanistan kicked off their innings with some powerful batting display. They reached fifty off just 31 deliveries riding on the super batting show by Rahmanullha Gurbaz. He helped Afghanistan to score 58 at the end of the powerplay hitting 42 off 22 balls with five fours and two sixes.
In the last over of the powerplay, Rahmanullah lost his opening partner Hazratullah Zazai for 13 off 14. Zazai was looking unsettled from the start of the innings. Zazai fell prey to Tendai Chatara while driving a delivery outside off-stumps to the cover but he lofted it and Sean Williams took a high-catch.
After a fiery 43 off 24, Gurbaz was removed by Williams. At the end of 10th over, Afghanistan were 75 for two. Within next four overs, Rashid Khan-led Afghans lost Najeeb Tarakai and Asghar Afghan.
Both of them were well settled in the middle, but disappointed to carry on for a big knock. While Taraki fell for 14 off 19, Asghar hit 14 off 16. Taraki was removed by seasoned campaigner Williams and Ainsley Ndlovu, the debutant, scalped Asghar.
In the nine overs after the powerplay, Afghanistan added only 51 runs losing two wickets. In the last five overs, Afghanistan added 88 runs and ended on 197 for five in 20 overs.
During the 17th and 18th over, Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran jointly hit seven sixes in a row. Nabi hit Chatara for four sixes in the last four of 17 over while Najibullah hit Neville Madziva for three consecutive maximums.
Along the way, Najibullah completed his fifty off in only 22 balls with three fours and five sixes. He ended on 60 off 30 balls with five fours and six sixes. Nabi got dismissed in the last ball of the innings off Chatara for 38 off 18 balls.
For Zimbabwe, Chatara and Willimas took two wickets each while Ainsley took one wicket on his debut.